18 Colonial-Style Houses with Enduring Charm
Colonial House Styles
As the name suggests, Colonial architecture began with the colonists who settled in America around the 1600s. They constructed homes using the materials they had available, basing the designs on the architectural styles of the countries they had left. Colonial style, therefore, encompasses several different types of homes, including Georgian, Federalist, Dutch Colonial, Spanish Colonial, and more.
Colonial House Design
Colonial houses typically include two or three stories stacked directly on top of each other. Historically, this simple layout made the homes easier to heat in the winter, a practical necessity for early colonists. Separate rooms, as opposed to open-concept layouts, and relatively low ceilings helped retain warmth more efficiently.
Modern Colonial House
With roots in the 17th century, Colonial homes exhibit one of the oldest house styles seen in America. However, there are plenty of ways to update these classic houses for contemporary life. A fresh color palette can modernize the exterior, and additions such as front porches or sunrooms can boost available living space.
Colonial House Colors
Symmetrical Colonial House Plans
Many Colonial-style homes exhibit a soothing visual symmetry. On the exteriors, windows, doors, columns, and other elements are typically reflected from one side to the other. Colonial home interiors also often feature a mirror-image setup, particularly on the main level.
Geometric Colonial Architecture
One of the hallmarks of Colonial home design is the regularity of its geometry. Most homes are squares or rectangles and have few flourishes. The straightforward design often makes Colonial houses easy to modify with additions and other renovations.
Colonial House Details
Centuries ago, many Colonial-style homes were built with operable shutters used to seal out inclement weather. Today's Colonials might still make use of this design element, although it's more often just for show. Shutters flanking each window help establish a regular exterior facade.
Colonial Home Exteriors
When many Colonial homes were constructed, builders used local materials on hand. For the East Coast, that often meant wood, and clapboard siding became a regular feature on this home type. Although there are many more siding types available today, some modern Colonial homes still make use of traditional materials for a more authentic look.
Colonial Roof Styles
Many historic house builders saved time and resources by creating a dormered half-story on the upper level instead of a full second floor. Colonial-style houses were often built with a steeply pitched roof that enabled practical drainage and access to an attic space. Dormer windows became popular later as a way to provide light and ventilation for the upper level, adding to the home's usable living space.
Colonial Home Window Placement
Many of the design influences of Colonial homes worked in tandem with one another. Precise geometry and symmetry deterred the random placement of details such as windows. Colonial-style houses typically feature a window on each side of the entry door and three to five windows on the upper level, with one directly above the entry door.
Brick Colonial House
Regional availability influenced the design and construction of Colonial homes. As the style extended from the East Coast to the Southern states, brick began to make an appearance in these restrained home designs. In an effort to save on material costs, some Colonial houses feature only a brick facade with less expensive siding around the back.
Colonial Home Landscaping
On par with stripped-down details in Colonial homes, their landscapes usually lack conspicuous ornamentation. Many rely on geometric combinations of shrubs and trees as a restrained accent. The more formal landscape designs underscore the style's refined appearance.
Simple Colonial Houses
Many Colonial houses, which are notable for their lack of interior flamboyance, rely on only token accents and embellishes for their exterior facades, too. Although this house is grand in terms of square footage, the single flourish is the arch atop the ground-level row of windows. The facade is otherwise quite flat and simply designed.
The front door of a Colonial-style house is traditionally placed directly in the middle, a reflection of their regular geometry as much as a practical layout choice. An on-center entry typically opens into a foyer or hall with rooms on either side. This allows for a stairway to be placed in the middle of the home, too, and a hallway that cuts through the center of the upper level.
Colonial House Portico
Unlike the wraparound, two-level porches common in many Victorian homes, classic Colonial homes have humble entryways. Many rely on a no-frills covered portico to mark a front entry. Decorative molding or columns around the portico sometimes provide limited embellishment.
As with many other details on Colonial homes, chimneys are a reminder of the historic ties of this style. Many Colonial homes had double chimneys, one on either side, to provide warmth throughout. Inside, fireplaces are often found on every level of the home.
Columns on Colonial Houses
Colonial homes were influenced by the history and architecture of the colonists' home countries, and many of them were from Europe. Although Colonial-style homes are fairly understated, some do have columns supporting the front porch or portico. This detail has its origins in Greek and Roman architecture and can be found in many of the grand buildings of Europe.
Four-Over-Four Colonial Home
If you look closely at a Colonial home exterior, you might be able to guess the floor plan of the interior. Many of these spaces were designed as four-over-four: four rooms downstairs, four rooms upstairs. Respectful additions such as this home's sunroom increase square footage while maintaining the original design aesthetic.